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Russia targeting healthcare in Ukraine – study
Pic: Shutterstock

21 Dec 2023 / global news Print

Russia targeting healthcare in Ukraine – study

A new case study, jointly published by EyeWitness to Atrocities and partners, has highlighted reports of what it describes as “less visible attacks” on civilians and healthcare professionals in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.

EyeWitness to Atrocities is an app set up by the International Bar Association (IBA) to help victims of atrocities to document war crimes.

Its new case study – Coercion and Control: Ukraine’s Health Care System Under Russian Occupation – was conducted by EyeWitness to Atrocities, Insecurity Insight, Media Initiative for Human Rights (MIHR), and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

Supplies requisitioned

A dataset jointly maintained by these organisations indicates that there have been at least:

  • 16 reported incidents in which a health facility was repurposed for non-medical use – including as a military base, to store weapons or to otherwise plan military action,
  • 34 reported incidents where civilian patients were forcibly evicted from healthcare facilities or denied access to care, and the facilities were then reportedly repurposed for the use of wounded soldiers,
  • 23 reported incidents where medical supplies were requisitioned by Russian forces,
  • 15 reported incidents of ‘passportisation’, or denying medical care to people without a Russian passport, or coercing civilians into obtaining one to access health care, and
  • 68 healthcare workers who were detained in 17 separate incidents.

Carrie Bowker (director of EyeWitness to Atrocities) described the reported incidents as “deeply concerning”, adding that they underscored the urgent need for thorough investigation by prosecutors.

A February 2023 report by the same organisations said that Russian forces appeared to be targeting Ukraine’s healthcare system as part of a broader attack on its civilian population and infrastructure.

The EyeWitness to Atrocities App has been used in Ukraine since 2017 to gather verifiable photo and video footage of potential violations of human-rights law and international criminal law.

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